The race for Florida Agricultural Commissioner is headed to a manual recount.
Last Tuesday, Republican state Rep. Matt Caldwell claimed victory at an election watch party in North Fort Myers. But the vote differential between Caldwell and Democrat Nicole “Nikki” Fried ended up being so small that the race went to an automatic recount. Fried now leads Caldwell by .066%.
On Thursday, Secretary of State Ken Detzner ordered a hand recount for the race.
Caldwell has filed a lawsuit against the Broward County Supervisor of Elections, Brenda Snipes, for failing to produce documents that show all votes were received prior to the 7 p.m. deadline on Election Day. He joined Sundial Tuesday.
On Thursday, former Democratic Congressman Patrick Murphy, who's leading Fried's transition team, joined Sundial to talk about the recount. Fried was unavailable to join the conversation.
WLRN: Nikki Fried's campaign announces victory. Is there any danger in announcing it before this is all said and done?
MURPHY: No. Look, she won the election right. She's up thousands of votes. It's exactly the right thing to do and it's the exact thing that Ron DeSantis and Rick Scott have done.
But Andrew Gillium's campaign, senator Nelson's campaign, have all said to wait.
Right. It always depends on what side of the coin you're at of course, but look if you're Nikki Fried, if you're an individual who has got the most votes on election night or early that next morning, you move on as is. It's really not about you or your opponent -- in that case it really becomes about the voters. That's the way we're approaching it right now in the Nikki Fried transition. We don't have days and weeks to waste with these recounts and lawsuits. We've got to be ready come Jan. 8 to handle this transition. There are so many important priorities that we've got to get done for the voters and dozens of positions to be filled.
So your opponent Matt Caldwell filed the lawsuit against Brenda Snipes claiming she cannot verify when all of the early voting, absentee voting and provisional ballots were submitted. Her first hearing is with Mr. Caldwell tomorrow (Nov. 16). Do you see legitimacy in Caldwell's suit?
No, honestly I haven't read it nor am I an attorney so it's probably out of my purview to even comment on that.
Tell me, what are your thoughts on everything that's happened? The three races were really tight and the rule is it automatically triggers the recount, but now you've got all of these questions about what's happening in Broward and in Palm Beach County. What is your take on everything that's happened?
So the rule itself, being on the 0.5 percent threshold, makes sense to me. That gives voters more confidence in the electoral process. But the actual process in order to get there -- lawsuits, tabulations, recounts, machine errors, machines breaking down and overheating -- is an embarrassment to the counties having the problems, to the state and to the country. It's not just South Florida. We've got to have accountability and I hope this is something that ... Governor-elect DeSantis looks at, is making sure that there some sort of uniform policy, that we [have] the same machines, same policies and same deadlines. Let's move beyond signatures. In this day and age, the fact that we are talking about volunteers and signatures seems a little silly to me. You know, God bless the volunteers for what they do. But we have block chain technology. We've got all sorts of other technologies with biometrics that we can be using that are very inexpensive and will give more confidence to the voters in our elections.